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Betimes Black Cloudmasses

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Album Review

The all-night jam session from which a band sculpts multiple albums looms large in progressive rock myth — to this day, some believe that all of Amon Düül I's albums were recorded in a single marathon 24-hour acid-fueled freak-out — but it rarely turns out to be true. However, not only did internationalist ambient-noise trio Aethenor record two albums in a single night (the second is scheduled for release in late 2008) with different guest artists, but supposedly, the basic tracks were laid down in a working meat locker at temperatures below freezing, so that the cold would affect both the players and their instruments. Besides the core trio of guitarist Stephen O'Malley, keyboardist and electronics mastermind Vincent de Roguin, and electric pianist Daniel O'Sullivan, Betimes Black Cloudmasses features guest vocals from Ulver's Kristoffer Rygg and free improv drummers Alex Babel and Nicolas Field on its three lengthy tracks. (Unlike the four entirely untitled tracks on the trio's debut, Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light, each of these ten-minute-plus pieces is titled with a Roman numeral.) Unlike the debut album, a more constructed piece that incorporated tapes of earlier improvisations by O'Malley and de Roguin, Betimes Black Cloudmasses is basically a single extended free improvisation that passes through a variety of moods and sounds. Aside from some of O'Sullivan's trademark Fender Rhodes parts, like the chiming susurrations in the middle section of "II," there is little melodic development here, but nor is there the carefully constructed atmosphere of the debut. Instead, Betimes Black Cloudmasses is simply an occasionally interesting, occasionally tedious example of post-rock experimentation in free improvisation.

Biography

Formed: 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Ambient sludge metal supergroup Aethenor consist of members of the deafening American duo Sunn 0))), British Rock in Opposition-associated act Guapo, and Swiss trance merchants Shora, crossing both international and musical boundaries. The project started in 2003, when Sunn 0)))'s guitarist Stephen O'Malley and Shora's keyboardist and electronics mastermind Vincent de Roguin started spending their down time during a shared European tour making spur-of-the-moment improvisational recordings in hotel...
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Betimes Black Cloudmasses, Aethenor
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